Monday, 2 March 2015


Adam Lindsay Gordon Monument. Melbourne.

Two things stand like stone;
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in one’s own.

Adam Lindsay Gordon was more the bush poet and outback horseman than the English gentleman he was meant to be.

Gordon was born in 1833, in the Azores to privileged English parents. He attended all the right schools, but had a reputation for running up debts and leading a reckless life. After been expelled from his last school, his frustrated father decided that Gordon should start over in Australia.

He took to the Australia, like a pig to mud. He broke in horses, rode in steeplechases, was elected to the South Australian parliament and became a published poet. But it is for his riding feats that he is most remembered for. The most famous occurred in 1864, when Gordon made his famed leap on horseback over an old post and rail guard fence onto a narrow ledge overlooking the Blue Lake many metres below and jumped back again onto the roadway.

In the late 1860’s, he decided to move to Melbourne where he continued to publish his poetry and ride in steeplechases. In one day, he won three races. It was here, that he developed a friendship with Thomas Lawless who was a jockey at the time. It was later on that Thomas joined the Victorian Mounted Police.

The men developed a friendly rivalry, each trying to outdo each other with their riding skills. I was once told by an elderly relative, that the duo jumped their horses over a bark hut for a dare. I can’t find any reference to the story and I'm surprised that it would be possible. I’ll have to do some more digging.

Sadly, it didn’t end well for Adam Lindsay Gordon; after his latest book of poems didn’t sell well and afflicted by injuries sustained by several falls off horses, Gordon shot himself in 1870.

He is the only Australian poet to have a bust in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey.